When a game is still in the pipeline, it usually undergoes several changes, some of which are drastic. Most often than not, a studio has an idea in place for what it wants a game to be, only for that game to come out completely different after its development. This is a good thing most of the time, as it could lead to a much better game.
It appears that the same thing happened to Supergiant Games’ Hades. Recently, the games developers had an interview with The Verge, where they revealed that the roguelike action RPG was supposed to have a completely different main protagonist when it was still in the making.
The current, finished version of Hades features Zagreus as the main character, who is the son of none other than the God of the Dead, Hades. Zagreus is on a mission to try and escape from Hades, the Realm of the Dead, and that’s essentially what the game is about. He encounters a variety of characters, along with action-packed boss fights, among others. What makes it so likeable, however, is its fascinating narrative, which caused the game to become one of the best-reviewed games on Valve’s digital platform, Steam.
However, it appears that Supergiant Games initially had a different protagonist in mind. According to one of the studio’s founders, Amir Rao, the game we know and love today was supposed to be entitled Minos, and the protagonist Supergiant Games had in mind was the Greek hero Theseus. In other words, the game was meant to be all about Theseus trying to escape from King Minos of Crete’s Labyrinth.
We have to give it to Supergiant Games, though—the initial concept was quite interesting. Greg Kasavin, the creative director of Hades, further explained that “the idea was going to be like each time you play, it’s kind of like a different retelling of the Theseus myth.” However, the team apparently had a difficult time trying to put a finger on who Theseus actually is as a character.
Every time they tried to “bring him to life as a protagonist,” Theseus ended up seeming so generic. However, when they tried to add in more details to his character to flesh him out, “he just doesn’t really feel like Theseus anymore.” As you can imagine, this is quite the dilemma.
Everything changed when Kasavin was on vacation. While doing some research, he happened to stumble upon Zagreus and the myths surrounding the son of Hades. This is when everything made sense to the creative director.
Supergiant Games quickly made the necessary changes to turn Zagreus into the main character and Theseus into a boss instead. It’s truly amazing how a game can change during the course of its development, and so much can happen within that span of time. A hero could become a villain, or vice versa, and one small difference can change a game for better or for worse.
In this case, it’s clear to see that Supergiant Games made the right decision. If the team pushed with the Theseus narrative, it’s highly possible that Hades—or Minos—wouldn’t be receiving the same kind of attention and acclaim. As they say, everything happens for a reason.